Researchers study is based on observations made with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter identified the evidence for liquid water on Mars.
Researchers using an imaging spectrometer found pattern of hydrated minerals on high rise slopes with strange lines on the planet. The lines appeared to be dark and flown down in warm season. It disappear during cooler seasons at 10 degree Fahrenheit observed in many locations.
“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe. Now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “As it appears to confirm that water albeit briny is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”
Recurring Slope Lineae
The researchers analyzed narrow, down-slope trending surface features on Mars that are darker than their surroundings, called Recurring Slope Lineae. Scientists claim slopes might be related to water. It’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.
“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest. It suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, lead author of a report on these findings.
The new findings are more proof that the mysterious lines he first saw darkening Martian slopes five years ago are present-day water.
Hydrated minerals on Mars
Researchers interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have shown to keep liquids from freezing. Even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius).
“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery. We know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars the more we learn how life could be supported. Also, finding out resources to support life in the future.”